Editorial: A cruel strike at Haitians is latest White House outrage

Cruel. Heartless. Wrong. Counter-productive.

Choose your favorite adjective to describe the Trump administration’s plans to eliminate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitians impacted by the country’s devastating 2010 earthquake and subsequent disasters, including an ongoing cholera epidemic.

There’s one word that you won’t find many people using to describe the announcement that came on Monday evening, and that’s “surprising.” Is there anyone who actually believed that a White House led by this president would actually seek to do the right thing by Haiti?

Elections have consequences. For people like the nearly 60,000 Haitian nationals and their dependents impacted by this ruling, the consequences of an extremist, anti-immigrant US presidency will be severe.

It means they will be kicked out of this country and deposited back into a chaotic, bankrupt, and chronically troubled state that is patently unable to handle the transfer of tens of thousands of people back to the island.

If there’s any glimmer of hope in the decision issued by Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke, it’s the timing. Haitians with TPS will have 18 months to “allow for an orderly transition before the designation terminates on July 22, 2019,” Duke announced. They will be required to reapply for new documents in order to legally work in the United States until then.

That’s little consolation to the people most immediately affected; but it does allow for some alternative actions to be attempted, much of which will focus on Congressional action as mid-term elections loom next year. While the fate of Haitian immigrants is not going to tip the scales in many districts, it’s another motivating factor for those who need it.

Still, make no mistake. Monday’s cold decision by Trump’s Homeland Security chief is another serious setback for Haiti, which still has tens of thousands of people living in camps becauzsed their homes were flattened in the quake.

Those living here under TPS can contribute far more to Haiti’s recovery by living and working in the United States than by eking out an existence in Haiti, where nearly 60 percent of people live below the national poverty line, with incomes of less than $2.41 per day, according to the Catholic Legal Immigration Network.

The earthquake of 2010 may seem distant to some, but the Trump team seems willing to disregard a far more recent and still-unresolved crisis in Haiti:a cholera epidemic introduced by UN troops in October 2010 that has killed some 10,000 people and sickened more than 800,000, according to the Boston-based Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti.

Gov. Charlie Baker, in making his own appeal to the Trump administration, wrote: “It is not consistent with the traditions and values of the United States to order the return of large numbers of foreign nationals who have been living under our laws and contributing to our economy and culture to countries that are dangerous, politically unstable, and incapable of providing basic services and protections for their citizens.”

Our governor has it right. Unfortunately, it will take more than written appeals to reverse this unjust policy.
– Bill Forry